Winston Churchill said “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach”. Yet, does the human race fully comprehend that power that is wielded by the spoken word? While pondering the merits of merlot versus cabernet sauvignon I chanced to overhear the conversation between a father and his son. Well perhaps conversation is too polite a term for the verbal onslaught that ensued.
With puce face and dark cavernous mouth in perpetual motion, words like “useless” and “embarassment” flew like barbed arrows towards the child striking him with an almost physical intensity. I cannot begin to envisage the justification for this tirade (could there be one?) but when it was directed at a boy of no more than ten it just beggars belief!
What saddened me /angered me and engendered emotions of most unladylike content, was the look of humiliation tinged with fear on this child’s face. Knowingly or unwittingly that father has irrepairably changed the makeup of his son’s psyche, irrepairably altered that sacred firmament of childhood that your parents are the safe haven where you can do no wrong. Without question the parental right to chastise their offspring is not being challenged, it’s part of the bigger picture but it’s the choice of words that has the greatest impact. Do you flex your authoratitive muscles to wound or guide?
“Human conversation is largely an endless attempt to convince others that we are more assertive or clever or generous or successful than they might think if we did not carefully educate them.” –John Ortberg